1640 – Settler Hugh Bewitt was banished from the Mass colony when he declared himself to be free of original sin.
1775 – American troops win their first land victory of the War for Independence at the Battle of Great Bridge, the British leave Virginia soon afterward. The Battle of Great Bridge was fought in the area of Great Bridge, Virginia. The victory by Continental Army and militia forces led to the departure of Governor Lord Dunmore and any remaining vestiges of British power from the Colony of Virginia during the early days of the conflict. Following increasing political and military tensions in early 1775, both Dunmore and rebellious Whig leaders recruited troops and engaged in a struggle for available military supplies. The struggle eventually focused on Norfolk, where Dunmore had taken refuge aboard a Royal Navy vessel. Dunmore’s forces had fortified one side of a critical river crossing south of Norfolk at Great Bridge, while Whig forces had occupied the other side. In an attempt to break up the Whig gathering, Dunmore ordered an attack across the bridge, which, based on bad information on the Whig positions, was decisively repulsed. Shortly thereafter, Norfolk, at the time a Tory center, was abandoned by Dunmore and the Tories, who fled to navy ships in the harbor.
1793 – Noah Webster established NY’s 1st daily newspaper, American Minerva.
1809 – William Barret Travis, Commander of the Texas troops at the battle of the Alamo, was born.
1835 – Inspired by the spirited leadership of Benjamin Rush Milam, the newly created Texan Army takes possession of the city of San Antonio, an important victory for the Republic of Texas in its war for independence from Mexico. Milam was born in 1788 in Frankfort, Kentucky. He became a citizen and soldier of Mexico in 1824, when newly independent Mexico was still under a republican constitution. Like many Americans who immigrated to the Mexican state of Texas, Milam found that the government both welcomed and feared the growing numbers of Americans, and treated them with uneven fairness. When Milam heard in 1835 that Santa Ana had overthrown the Mexican republic and established himself as dictator, Milam renounced his Mexican citizenship and joined the rag-tag army of the newly proclaimed independent Republic of Texas. After helping the Texas Army capture the city of Goliad, Milam went on a reconnaissance mission to the southwest but returned to join the army for its planned attack on San Antonio-only to learn that the generals were postponing the attack on San Antonio for the winter. Aware that Santa Ana’s forces were racing toward Texas to suppress the rebellion, Milam worried that any hesitation would spell the end of the revolution. Milam made an impassioned call for volunteers, asking: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?” Inspired by Milam’s bold challenge, three hundred men did volunteer, and the Texas Army began its attack on San Antonio at dawn on December 5. By December 9, the defending forces of the Mexican army were badly beaten, and the commanding general surrendered the city. Milam, however, was not there to witness the results of his leadership–he was killed instantly by a sniper bullet on December 7. If Milam had survived, he might well have been among the doomed defenders of the Alamo that were wiped out by Santa Ana’s troops the following March.
1861 – To monitor both military progress and the Lincoln administration, Congress creates the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. The War Committee, as it was called, was created in the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of Ball’s Bluff in October 1861 and was designed to provide a check over the executive branch’s management of the war. The committee was stacked with Radical Republicans and staunch abolitionists, however, and was often biased in its approach to investigations of the Union war effort. Among other things, the War Committee investigated fraud in government war contracts, the treatment of Union prisoners held in the South, alleged atrocities committed by Confederate troops against Union soldiers, and the Sand Creek Massacre of Indians in Colorado. Most of the committee’s energies were directed towards investigating Union defeats, particularly those of the Army of the Potomac. Many members were bitterly critical of generals like George McClellan and George Meade, Democrats that they believed were “soft” on slavery. The War Committee was often at odds with the Lincoln administration’s handling of the war effort, and had particular problems with the administration’s military decisions. At the beginning of the war, it was critical because the administration did not have the eradication of slavery as one of its goals. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, the committee still found fault with many of the administration’s decisions-for instance, they did not want any Democratic generals in the army. Members of the committee often leaked testimony to the press and contributed to the jealousy and distrust among Union generals. Although the committee did help to uncover fraud in war contracts, the lack of military expertise by its members often simply complicated the Northern war effort.
1863 – Major General John G. Foster replaced Major General Ambrose E. Burnside as Commander of the Department of Ohio.
1864 – U.S.S. Otsego, Lieutenant Commander Arnold, sank in the Roanoke River near Jamesville, North Carolina, after striking two torpedoes in quick succession. Double-ender Otsego, along with U.S.S. Wyalusing, Lieutenant Commander English, Valley City, Acting Master John A. J. Brooks, and tugs Belle and Bazely, had formed an expedition to capture Rainbow Bluff, on the Roanoke River, and the Confederate ram rumored to be building at Halifax, North Carolina. Commander Macomb anchored his squadron at Jamesville to await the arrival of cooperating troops, and Otsego struck two torpedoes while anchoring. Bazely, coming alongside to lend assistance, also struck a torpedo and sank instantly. Lieutenant Commander Arnold and part of his crew remained on board the sunken Otsego to cover that portion of the river with her guns above water on the hur-ricane deck, and the rest of the group slowly moved upriver, dragging for torpedoes, to commence the attack on Rainbow Bluff.
1867 – The capital of Colorado Territory was moved from Golden to Denver.
1888 – Statistician Herman Hollerith installs his computing device, a mechanical tabulator based on punched cards to rapidly tabulate statistics from millions of pieces of data, at the United States War Department.
1909 – The 1st US monoplane was flown by Henry W. Walden at Long Island, NY.
1938 – Prototype shipboard radar, designed and built by the Naval Research Laboratory, is installed on USS New York (BB-34).
1941 – Gilbert Islands, Tarawa and Makin are occupied by the Japanese1941 – Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans to plan for a long war.
1941 – 1st US WW II bombing mission in Far East took place over Luzon, Philippines.
1941 – Hitler ordered US ships torpedoed.
1941 – USS Swordfish (SS-193) makes initial U.S. submarine attack on Japanese ship.
1941 – The Automobile Racing Drivers Club of America (ARDCA) closed its doors due to World War II, which created shortages of fuel, tires, and other automotive necessities–including men to drive the cars. After the war, the ARDCA never got started again.
1942 – On Guadalcanal, General Patch’s 14th Corps relieves the exhausted Marines. The Marines leave for Australia
1943 – German forces counterattack near Monte Sammucro but the forces of the US 5th Army hold. The Monte Camino perimeter is consolidated.
1943 – On Bougainville, a recently constructed American airfield becomes operational at Cape Torokina.
1944 – US 3rd Army is engaged in fighting around the various bridgeheads over the Saar River. American forces are within 4 miles of Saarbrucken. A German counterattack, with tanks and infantry, near Saarlouis is defeated as US forces advance further into the German held Siegfried Line. To the right of the Allied line, the US 7th Army and French 1st Army continue offensive operations.
1944 – The US 8th Air Force attacks Stuttgart during the day.
1944 – On Leyte, a small number of Japanese reinforcements are successfully landed at Palompon on the west coast, northwest of Ormoc. To the south of Ormoc, the US 77th Divsion continues expanding its beachhead.
1948 – U.S. abandoned a plan to de-concentrate industry in Japan.
1948 – The Int’l. Convention Against Genocide was approved by the UN General Assembly.
1949 – UN took trusteeship over Jerusalem.
1950 – President Truman banned U.S. exports to Communist China.
1950 – Harry Gold–who had confessed to serving as a courier between Klaus Fuchs, a British scientist who stole top-secret information on the atomic bomb, and Soviet agents–is sentenced to 30 years in jail for his crime. Gold’s arrest and confession led to the arrest of David Greenglass, who then implicated his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Gold’s arrest was part of a massive FBI investigation into Soviet espionage, particularly the theft of atomic secrets. Gold, a 39-year-old research chemist, made the acquaintance of British atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs during the latter’s trips to the United States during World War II. Fuchs worked at the Los Alamos laboratory on the Manhattan Project, the top secret U.S. program to develop an atomic weapon. David Greenglass was also employed at Los Alamos. In February 1950, Fuchs was arrested in Great Britain and charged with passing atomic secrets on to the Soviets. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in a British prison. Fuchs then accused Gold of having been the go-between with Soviet agents. Gold was picked up a short time later and eventually confessed to his part. He explained that, at the time, he did not believe that he was helping an enemy, but was instead assisting a wartime ally of the United States. Further questioning of Gold led him to implicate David Greenglass. Greenglass then informed on Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, claiming that both of them actively spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and after. The Rosenbergs were later convicted and executed for espionage.
1950 – X Corps was forced to withdraw from Hungnam by sea. A curtain of intense naval gunfire greatly aided the successful evacuation of 3,834 U.N. military personnel, 1,146 vehicles, 10,013 tons of bulk cargo and 7,000 Korean civilian refugees by elements of the U.S. Navy’s Task Force 90.
1952 – Three carriers of Task Force 77 launched aircraft to strike military targets at Munsan, Hyesanjin, Rashin and Hunyun, the latter being the northernmost air raid on the Korean War.
1958 – In Indianapolis, retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H.W. Welch, Jr., establishes the John Birch Society, a right-wing organization dedicated to fighting what it perceives to be the extensive infiltration of communism into American society. Welch named the society in honor of John Birch, considered by many to be the first American casualty in the struggle against communism. In 1945, Birch, a Baptist missionary and U.S. Army intelligence specialist, was killed by Chinese communists in the northern province of Anhwei. The John Birch Society, initially founded with only 11 members, had by the early 1960s grown to a membership of nearly 100,000 Americans and received annual private contributions of several million dollars. The society revived the spirit of McCarthyism, claiming in unsubstantiated accusations that a vast communist conspiracy existed within the U.S. government. Among others, the organization implicated President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. However, after the debacle of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s public hearings in the early 1950s, America became more wary of radical anti-communism, and few of the society’s sensational charges were taken seriously by mainstream American society. The John Birch Society remains active today, and its members seek “to expose a semi-secret international cabal whose members sit in the highest places of influence and power worldwide.”
1960 – The Laos government fled to Cambodia as the capital city of Vientiane was engulfed in war.
1968 – Douglas Engelbart gave what became known as “The Mother of All Demos”, publicly debuting the computer mouse, hypertext, and the bit-mapped graphical user interface using the oN-Line System (NLS).
1969 – U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers proposes his plan for a ceasefire in the War of Attrition; Egypt and Jordan accept it over the objections of the PLO, which leads to civil war in Jordan in September 1970.
1971 – For the first time since the Paris peace talks began in May 1968, both sides refuse to set another meeting date for continuation of the negotiations. The refusal to continue came during the 138th session of the peace talks. U.S. delegate William Porter angered the communist negotiators by asking for a postponement of the next scheduled session of the conference until December 30, to give Hanoi and the Viet Cong an opportunity to develop a “more constructive approach” at the talks. The U.S. side was displeased with the North Vietnamese, who repeatedly demanded that South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu resign as a prerequisite for any meaningful discussions. Although both sides returned to the official talks in January 1972, the real negotiations were being conducted between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the lead North Vietnamese negotiator, in a private villa outside Paris. These secret talks did not result in a peace agreement until January 1973, after the massive 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive had been blunted and Nixon had ordered the “Christmas bombing” of Hanoi and Haiphong to convince North Vietnam to rejoin the peace negotiations.
1984 – In Iran a five-day hijack drama ended when Iranian commandos captured the Kuwaiti plane. 4 armed men had seized a Kuwaiti airliner en route to Pakistan and forced it to land in Tehran, where the hijackers killed American passenger Charles Hegna.
1987 – On the second day of their White House summit, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev grappled with differences over Afghanistan and cutbacks in long-range nuclear arms.
1992 – Former CIA spy chief Clair George was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. President Bush pardoned him.
1992 – US Force Recon Marines and Navy SEAL’s, followed by Company F, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment arrive in Mogadishu, launching America’s intervention in Somalia.
1993 – The Air Force destroyed the first of 500 Minuteman II missile silos marked for elimination under an arms control treaty.
1993 – Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour completed repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope.
1996 – More than four months after the Olympic Games bombing, the FBI posted a $500,000 reward. Richard Jewell, the security guard who was wrongfully accused of planting a bomb during the Olympics, and his lawyers negotiated a $500,000 settlement from NBC. NBC settled to avert a defamation suit.
1996 – UN chief Boutros-Ghali gave Iraq the go-ahead to resume oil exports for the first time since 1990 to buy food and medicine. Two billion of oil sales will be allowed every 6 months to buy food, medicine and other necessities.
1997 – It was reported that the US had agreed to provide over $500 million towards the construction of a new atom smasher in Geneva under the direction of CERN. The large Hadron Collider was expected to be completed for $6 billion by 2005.
1997 – North Korean officials agreed to a 4-nation meeting in Geneva for a permanent peace treaty to the 1950-1953 Korean War. The talks inaugurated formal discussion for a permanent peace agreement and a new session was scheduled for Mar 16.
1998 – Iraq refused UN inspectors access to an office of the ruling Baath Party.
1999 – Seven Marines were killed after a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed while ferrying troops between ships 14 miles off Point Loma, Ca.
2000 – The US Supreme ruled 5-4 to stop the recount in Florida until arguments are heard Dec 11.
2000 – Pres. Putin said he would follow the recommendation of the pardons commission and free Edmond Pope. It was later reported that Pope’s efforts to buy technology ran parallel to Canadian efforts to buy advanced Shkval torpedoes from a defense plan in Kyrgyzstan.
2001 – The United States disclosed the existence of a videotape in which Osama bin Laden said he was pleasantly surprised by the extent of damage from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
2001 – US B-52s continued strikes over Tora Bora. A Northern Alliance helicopter crashed and 18 people were killed including 2 Pashtun commanders. The last province under Taliban control, Zabul, was handed over to tribal leaders.
2001 – The Friendship Bridge linking Afghanistan and Uzbekistan was opened for aid transport.
2002 – The Spanish SPS Navarra (F85) intercepted the unflagged freighter So San several hundred miles southeast of Yemen at the request of the United States government. The frigate fired across the So San’s bow after the freighter ignored hails and attempted to evade the frigate. The freighter’s crew was North Korean; 23 containers containing 15 complete Scud ballistic missiles, 15 high-explosive warheads, and 23 nitric acid (used as an oxidizer for fueling Scud missiles) containers were found on board. Yemen claimed ownership of the shipment and protested the interception and U.S. officials released the vessel after receiving assurances that the missiles would not be transferred to a third party.
2002 – The United States received a copy Monday of Saddam Hussein’s massive arms declaration as inspectors began combing the dossier for clues about whether Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.
2002 – US and Spanish forces seized an unflagged ship from North Korea that was carrying Scud missiles to Yemen.
2002 – Serbia headed for a major political crisis after it failed a second time to elect a president, with supporters of the top vote-getter vowing to challenge the outcome.
2003 – In Japan PM Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet approved the dispatch of about 1,000 soldiers to help in the reconstruction of Iraq.
2003 – North Korea offered an apparent counterproposal to a U.S.-backed plan to resolve the standoff over its nuclear program, saying it would freeze the project in return for energy aid and being removed from Washington’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
2004 – Indian officials cautioned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that a proposed US sale of military hardware worth $1.2 billion to Pakistan could damage a fragile peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbors and harm India-US relations.
2004 – In Iraq insurgent mortar fire in Baghdad left 3 people dead.
2004 – United Airlines was scheduled to begin service to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
2006 – The Space Shuttle Discovery makes a rare night time launch. STS-116 was a Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) flown by Space Shuttle Discovery. Discovery lifted off at 20:47:35 EST. It was the first night launch of a space shuttle since STS-113 in November 2002. The mission is also referred to as ISS-12A.1 by the ISS program. The main goals of the mission were delivery and attachment of the International Space Station’s P5 truss segment, a major rewiring of the station’s power system, and exchange of ISS Expedition 14 personnel. The shuttle landed at 17:32 EST on 22 December 2006 at Kennedy Space Center 98 minutes off schedule due to unfavorable weather conditions. This mission was particularly notable to Sweden, being the first spaceflight of a Scandinavian astronaut, Christer Fuglesang. STS-116 was the final scheduled space shuttle launch from Pad 39B as NASA reconfigured it for Ares I launches. The only remaining use of Pad 39B by the shuttle was as a reserve for the STS-400 Launch On Need mission to rescue the crew of STS-125, the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, if their shuttle became damaged. After STS-116, Discovery entered a period of maintenance. Its next mission would be STS-120 starting on 23 October 2007.
2008 – The Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is arrested by federal officials for crimes including attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama’s election to the Presidency.
2014 – The Democratically-controlled United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence releases a report critical of the post-September 11 Bush Administration-era CIA interrogation techniques used to extract intelligence from captured Al-Qaeda operatives. The Obama Administration orders US embassies around the world be placed on high alert. The report is the result of several years of research and has been compiled by the Democratic members of the committee, another report is expected to be published by the committee’s Republican members
Congressional Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
VANDEGRIFT, ALEXANDER ARCHER
Rank and organization: Major General, U.S. Marine Corps, commanding officer of the 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Solomon Islands, 7 August to 9 December 1942. Entered service at: Virginia. Born: 13 March 1887, Charlottesville, Va. Citation: For outstanding and heroic accomplishment above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 1st Marine Division in operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands during the period 7 August to 9 December 1942. With the adverse factors of weather, terrain, and disease making his task a difficult and hazardous undertaking, and with his command eventually including sea, land, and air forces of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, Maj. Gen. Vandegrift achieved marked success in commanding the initial landings of the U.S. forces in the Solomon Islands and in their subsequent occupation. His tenacity, courage, and resourcefulness prevailed against a strong, determined, and experienced enemy, and the gallant fighting spirit of the men under his inspiring leadership enabled them to withstand aerial, land, and sea bombardment, to surmount all obstacles, and leave a disorganized and ravaged enemy. This dangerous but vital mission, accomplished at the constant risk of his life, resulted in securing a valuable base for further operations of our forces against the enemy, and its successful completion reflects great credit upon Maj. Gen. Vandegrift, his command, and the U.S. Naval Service.